If you've ever wanted to search for incredible Arctic wildlife by small ship, now is the time to go! On this fantastic odyssey to Spitsbergen, find yourself surrounded by massive glaciers and dramatic icescapes that could only be home to Atlantic puffins, Arctic foxes, thousands of kittiwakes, whales, seals, and of course, the elusive polar bear. Enjoy life aboard a small expedition vessel as expert leaders and staff bring this northern ream to life with fascinating talks and explorations in Longyearbyen, the capital of Svalbard.
Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.
Day 1, Jul 10, 2018
Board your independent flight to Norway.
Day 2, Jul 11, 2018
Arrive in Oslo and transfer to our hotel. Lunch and the remainder of the day are at leisure to enjoy this fascinating and colorful city. Gather this evening for a welcome reception followed by dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 3, Jul 12, 2018
Oslo / Longyearbyen / Embark Ocean Adventurer
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Longyearbyen. Explore this Arctic mining town and capital of Svalbard; the brightly colored buildings house a variety of small shops and restaurants, as well as the Svalbard Museum. Embark the Ocean Adventurer in the late afternoon.
Days 4-12, Jul 13-21, 2018
Spitsbergen, Svalbard Archipelago
Spend nine days exploring the rugged coastline, spectacular narrow fjords, and offshore islands of Spitsbergen, the largest island of the Svalbard Archipelago. The primary goal is to locate wildlife, which is found here in abundance during the short summer season. Many varieties of seabirds nest in great profusion along the steep cliffs surrounding the islands. In addition to walrus haul-outs, bearded, ringed, and harp seals can be seen basking on ice floes. Also keep a watch out for polar bears. The nature of polar expeditions requires flexibility regarding the daily schedule of activities, and landings may be dependent on weather, tide, and ice conditions. Though specific stops are not guaranteed, the following are places visited on past expeditions:
Poolepynton - Part of Forlandet National, this area is known for great walrus viewing and photography. Though sightings are never guaranteed, this area is known as a popular haul-out for these lumbering giants. They often create quite a rowdy scene, as each walrus vies for a choice spot of coastline.
Liefdefjorden - Liefdefjorden is a dramatically scenic fjord, where rugged mountains rise from the permanent ice cap and Monaco Glacier spills into the sea at the deepest part of the waterway. Named for Prince Albert I of Monaco, a pioneer of oceanography, who led an expedition to Svalbard in 1906. His team used sophisticated photographic techniques to understand the shape and position of several glacier fronts, and the Monaco Glacier honors the expedition, and the prince. This is a favored feeding ground for thousands of kittiwakes, and whales and seals are also common sights.
Moffen Island - A small, atoll-like island just a few feet above sea level, Moffen is a protected walrus sanctuary. Photographic opportunities abound with these massive creatures hauled out on the gravel shores. Polar bears and the rare Sabine’s gulls may also be found on this island.
Lagoya Island - Zodiacs bring you to Lagoya to search for the elusive polar bear, which has been spotted hunting here in the past.
Hinlopen Strait - Glaciers, chiseled fjords, and icebergs hallmark this desolate and exquisitely beautiful region. Board Zodiacs to watch for, and photograph, bearded, harp, and ringed seals.
Alkefjellet - These impressive, sheer basalt cliffs are a haven for breeding seabirds. Tens of thousands of Brünnich’s guillemots (thick-billed murres) raise their young here, as well as glaucous gulls and kittiwakes. Keep an eye out for opportunistic Arctic foxes hunting for eggs at the base of the cliffs.
Phippsoya Island - At the far northern edge of the Svalbard Archipelago, Phippsoya Island boasts a classic High Arctic environment—a barren, rocky landscape with some coastal plains, but otherwise mountainous, with steep slopes. The lowlands support mostly lichens mosses, some of which are quite colorful, and small patches of Svalbard poppy and saxifrage are scattered among the jumble of rocks. There are also small colonies of seabirds including Atlantic puffins, dovekies, and rare ivory gulls.
Edgeoya Island - Edgeoya is the third largest island in the Svalbard Archipelago and home to large herds of reindeer, which in turn supports a healthy population of predators, including polar bears.
Day 13, Jul 22, 2018
Longyearbyen / Disembark / Oslo
Disembark this morning in Longyearbyen, with free time to explore on your own. After lunch at a local restaurant, transfer to the airport for your flight to Oslo, with dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 14, Jul 23, 2018
Oslo / USA
After breakfast, board your independent flight homeward.